Page images

not perceaue it, such is the fineness of straungers wits and the grosenes of ours, yet it were more tollerable if wee did no more of the

coyne but chearishe their deuises that be straungers : but we haue in times what past deuised our selues many other wayes, to our owne impouerish- harme ment, and to exhaust our treasure. And now I must come to that might have

growne of thynge that you (brother mercer) touched afore, which I take to be the alter the chiefe cause of all this dearth of thinges (in comparison of for- tion of it. mer times) and of the manifest impouerishinge of the realme, and might in short time haue ben the destruction of the same, if it had not bene the rather remedied, that is, the basing, or rather, the corrupting of our coyne, and treasure, whereby we deuised a way for the straungers not only to buy our gold and siluer for brasse, and to exhaust this realme of treasure, but also to buy our chiefe commodities in maner for nought, yet it was thought this should haue bene a meane, not onely to bring our treasure home, but to bring much of theirs; but the experience playnely declared the contrary, so that it were but a very dullerdes parte now to be in any doubt thereof.

Knight. Forsooth and such a dullerd am I in deede, that I cannot perceaue what hinderaunce it should be to the realme to haue this mettall more then that (for our coyne,) seeing the coyne is but a token to goe from man to man, and wheu it is stricken with the princes seale to be currant; what maketh it the matter what mettall it be made of: yea, though it were but leather, or paper.

Doctor. You say but as most sorte of men doe say, and yet they be farre wide from the truth, as men that do not consider the thinge groundly; for by that reason God would neuer send dearth among vs, but the prince might quickely remedy it. As if corne were at a crowne a bushell, the prince might prouide crownes ynough for himselfe, and also his subiects, made of brasse, to pay for the same, and so to make it as easy for him and his subiects to pay a crowne of such mettall for a bushell, as it should be for them now to pay a penny for the same: and as the price of corne doth rise, the prince might rayse the estimation of his coyne after the rate, and so keep the coyne alwayes at one estate in deede, though in name it shoulde seeme to rise. As for example, suppose wheate this yeare to be at a grot a bushell, and the next yeare at two grotes, the prince might cause the grote to be called eight pence; and if the bushel rose to twelue pence the bushel, he might rayse the estate of the grote to twelue pence, and so whether it were by makinge of coyne of other mettalles then be of price receaued amonge all men, or by enhaunsing the price of the olde coyne made in mettalles of estimation, the prince might, if your reason were true, keepe alwaies not onely corne, but also all other victaylles and necessaries for mans life, alwayes at one price in deede, NO. IX. Pam.



though in terme they should vary: but yee may see dayly by experience the contrary hereunto, for when God sendeth dearth, either of corne or of other things, there is neither emperor nor king can help it, which they would gladly doe if they might, as wel for their owne ease, as for their subiects, and might soone doe it if your reason afore touched might take place: that is, if either they might make coine of what estimation they would, of vile mettalles : or els enhaunse the value of coines made in mettalls of price, to what some they would. Yet a man at the first blush woulde thinke that a prince in his realme might doe this easily, and make what coyne he would to be currant, and of what estimation it pleased him, but

he that so thinketh marketh but the termes, and not the thinges The sub

that are vnderstanded by them, as if a man made no differaunce staunce and quan- betwene six grotes that made an ownce of siluer, and twelue tity is es grotes, that made in all but an ownce of siluer, by the grote teemed in coyne and of th

of the firste sorte, the sixth parte of an ownce, and by a grote not the of the other sorte is the twelfth parte of an ownce of siluer

vnderstanded, and so there must bee as much difference betwene the one grote and the other, as is betwene two and one, the whole thinge and the halfe: though either of both be called but vnder one name, that is a grote : we must consider though gold and siluer be the mettalls commonly wherein the coyne is strycken to bee the tokens for exchaunge of thinges betwene man and man: yet it is the wares that are necessary for mans vse, that are exchaunged in deede, vnder the outward name of the coyne, and it is the raritie and plenty of such wares, that makes the price therof hier or baser, And because it were very combrous and chargeable to cary so much of the wares that we haue abundance of, to exchaunge for the wares that we want, alwayes both for the weight of our wares, and also for that they could not be caried so farre without perishing of the same, nor proporcioned so euen, as they should be alwayes,

neither more or lesse brought of our wares, then were equiualent Aristo. lib. with other wares that we receiue, therefore were the mettals of 5. Eth golde and siluer deuised, as wares of litle weight, most in value, That the necessity and least combrous to carie: and least subiect to detriment or hurt of mutuall in the cariage thereof, and may be cut and diuided in most pieces trafifque and portions, without any losse, to be as the meane in wares to and com modity of exchaunge all other wares by. And if the thynge were to be new exchang deuised, necessity would cause vs to deuise the same way againe. made. For put the case there were no vse of inouey amonge vs, but onely coyne to be denised, exchaunge of wares, for wares, as somtimes I do reade hath ben; Homm. F. we might at a time haue such plenty of thinges in our realme, as de empti- for example of corn, wolles, and felles, cheese, and butter, and one et vendicatione. such ome

ne. such other commodities as were sufficient for vs, and there shoulde 1.1. remayne with vs such great store, that wee could not spend it in

our needes, nor keepe it longe without perishing. Woulde not we

saynge again that would bydd not



e striken

be glad to exchaunge that abundance of thinges, that could not abyde the longe keeping : for such wares that would abyde the . keeping, which we mighte exchaunge agayne for such wares, as I rehearsed, or any other as necessary: when scarsitie of the same should happen amonge vs ? Yea, verely, we would studie to haue in that exchaunge such wares as would go in least romth, and continue longest without perishing, and be caried to and fro with least charge, and be most currant at all times, and at all places. Is not gold and siluer, the thinges that be most of that sorte; I meane most of value, most light to be caried, longest able to abide the Why gold keeping; aptest to receiue any forme, marke, and most currant in and siluer all places, and most easelie deuided into many pieces without losse of the stuffe. In some of these poyntes I confesse precious meete for stones do excell siluer or yet golde, as in value or lightnesse of coine to cariage, but then, they may not bee deuided without perishing of in

in. the substaunce, nor put agayne together, after they be ones deuided, nor many of them abyde so many daungers without perishing of the matter, nor yet receiue any marke or stampe easely, nor be so vniuersally esteemed: therefore they be not so meete for instru. mentes of exchaunge, as siluer and golde be, or els they for their pieces and lightnesse of cariage, might be. And because golde Publica and siluer haue all these commodities in them, they are chosen by mensura common assent of all the world that is knowen to be of any ciui

Aristo. lity, to be instruments of exchaunge to measure all things by, most apte to be either caried farre or kept in store, to receiue for thinges, whereof we haue abundance, and to purchase by them agayne other thinges which wee lacke, when and where we haue most neede. · A's for example, if there were no coyne currant; but exchaunge of things as I sayd sometime there was : set this case, that a man had as much corne in one yere as he could not well spend in his house in foure yeares after, and perceiued that hee mighte not keepe it so longe, or till a deare or skarce yeare shoulde come, and if he did, much of it shoulde perish or all, were it not wisedome for him then to exchaunge the ouerplus of that corne, for some other ware that might be longer kept, without daunger of wast, or deininishing, for the which he might at all times haue either corne againe at his neede, or some other necessarie thing? Yeas no doubt, if there were no vse of siluer'or golde, he would haue tione, brasse, or leadde, or such other like thing that would abide the keeping with least detriment, and would desire to haue . that thing most, that were in least weight, most in value, and in least daunger of wearing or perishing, and most vniuersally receiued, where in golde and siluer excelles all other mettalles. .

Knight. What makes these metalles to bee of more value then other?


[ocr errors]

Doctor. No doubt their excellencie aboue other mettalles, both in pleasure and vse, is partely the raritie of them.

Knight. What be these qualities? If yee prayse the golde for his weight or pliablenes, led doth excel it in these pointes, if yee commend his colour, siluer by many mens judgements (whose colour resembleth the day light for his clereness) passeth him. And herroldes preferres it in armes: because it is furthest of seene in the fielde, nor neuer seemes other colour but his owne, be it neuer so farre of; where al other shall seeme blacke farre of, and so loose the strengthe of their owne.

Doctor. As much as the led approcheth the gold in that pointe, I speake of weight and pliablenes, it is cast behinde it in other qualities farre more commendable, as in colour it either passeth sil

uer by some other meus iudgementes, because it resembles the coWhy golde lour of the celestiall bodies, as the sunne and starres being the and syluer are estem. 1

most excellent thinges that commeth vnder the view of the bodelie ed afore sences of man, or it is equivalent to it: in armes I know not how all other much it is esteemed, well [ wote princes blase their armes most metalls.

with that colour, whether it bee for excellency of the same, or for that they loue the mettall it is made of so wel, I cannot tel; but now to esteeme theyr other qualities, golde is neuer wasted nor consumed by fier; yea, the more it is burned the more puerer it is, which ye can say of none other mettalles. Then it weares not lesse by occupying, it defileth not the thing it toucheth, as siluer doth, with which ye may draw lynes, which is a declaration, that the stuffe falleth away: al beit wryters do maruel that it should draw so blacke a line, being of that brightnes and colour it self. Then there is no rust nor scurfe tliat deminisheth the goodnes or wasteth the substaunce of gold; it abides the freating, and licours of salt and vinegar without damage, which weareth any other thing : it needes no fier, ere it be made gold as others require, it is golde as soone as it is founde, it is drawen without woll, as it were woll, it is easely spred in leaues of marueilous thinnes : ye may adorne or guild any other mettals with it, yea stones and tymber : it is also nothinge inferiour in commodity of makyng vessels or other instrumentes to siluer, but rather puerer, cleaner, and more sweete to keepe any liquor in. Next him approcheth siluer in commendations, as in cleanes, beauty, sweetenes, and brightnes. And it serues not onely to make vessels and other instruments, but it is also sponne, but not without woll, as gold may bee, though they could not doe it afore time, but with gold onely, as I haue hearde, church vestures were made onely of gold then, and now of late of this siluer being spon with silke and guilte, they counterfeite the olde excess of clothe of golde and tissue. Now to speake of other mettalls, yee see what vses they serue for, whych if these were away should bee more es

Slasse memodity of" bof the weathindow with siluer, and so

teemed. Then I toulde you the raritye commends the sayd mettalls of gold and siluer yet more then this. For as they do excel in qualities, so dame Nature seemes to haue laied them vp in a further warde then her other giftes, to shew vs that all fayre things be rare, and that the fayrest thinges as they be hardest to be attayned, so they be most to be esteemed. If a glasse (as Erasmus sayth wel) were as rare as siluer, it should be as deare as siluer, and not without cause : who could glase a window with siluer so as he might keepe out the iniury of the weather, and yet neuerthelesse receiue the commodity of the light through the same to his house, as with glasse he might? And so I might commend other things for theyr vse afore gold or siluer, 'as iron and steele, with whom yee may make better tooles for many necessary vses, then with gold or siluer, but for the vses that we talke of, siluer and golde do clearely excell all other mettals. I passe ouer that matter : thus I haue shewed some reason, why these mettals of gold and syluer are growen in estimation aboue other...

Knight. Why doe kynges and princes stricke these mettalles and other with a coyne, but because they would haue that coyne of what value so euer it be, to beare the estate that the coine pretendeth, which they did in vaine if they could make the mettall Why gold that beares that, to be neither better nor worse in estimation. Then and syluer I had as liefe haue smal gadds or plats of siluer and gold without wer

- coyned, any coyne at al, to go abroade from man to man for exchaunge.

Doctor. Surely the time was so (euen among the Romaynes, when neither brasse, siluer, nor golde was coined,) but were esteemed onely by the weight. And thereof to this day remayneth these vocables of coynes, as libra, pondo, dipondius, as solidus, Plini lib. denarius, wordes of weightes, that afterward were geuen to coynes, 33. cap. 3. pretending the same weights. Also the commen officers that waighed these rude mettals were called libri pendes, whereof we Sometime haue mencione made in the ciuile lawe: but because in great traf. brasse, silfique and assembly of buyers, and such, it was tedious to tary for me

locary 10 golde were the weighing of these mettalles and trying, it was thought good weighed that the princes should strike those mettals with seueral markes, before for the variety of the weights they were of, to assure the receiuor comme the same to be no lesse then the weight it pretended. As for Int. de playner example, they strake the pound weight with the marke of test. ord, the pound, and the ounce with the marke of the ounce, and so af- J. 1. ter the variety of the weights of other pieces variable markes : whereby began the names of coynes, so that the people needed not to be troubled with the weighing and tryinge of euery piece, being assured by the marke of the prynce, that euery piece contayned the weight that was signyfied by the marke set on euery one: the prynces credite was then such amonge their subiects as they

« PreviousContinue »